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Christian Tobin, left, is pinned as Dalton fire chief by his father, James Tobin, a former Pittsfield firefighter and chief.
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Dalton Swears in New Fire Chief

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Fire Chief Christian Tobin is sworn in by Melanie Roucoulet, the Fire District's clerk and treasurer. See more photos here
DALTON, Mass. — The town's new Fire Chief Christian Tobin was welcomed to the department during a swearing-in ceremony at the Stationery Factory on Monday evening. 
 
The ceremony that drew in nearly 100 community members was full of laughter and, at times, tears. It also marked an end to a turbulent year that saw multiple changes in leadership and allegations of misconduct within the Fire Department.
 
Tobin has nearly 25 years experience in the field and just recently retired as a deputy chief of operations for the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District in the state of Florida. He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps.
 
He holds a bachelor of science in public safety administration and a master's degree in public administration. In addition, he is a candidate for a juris masters in legal studies at Hodges University in Fort Myers, Fla.
 
Although at times this change is a "little overwhelming" it is an exciting one, Tobin said. 
 
"One of my favorite quotes that I often use goes, 'opportunity is often missed because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work' and that's what we have here in Dalton," Tobin said. 
 
"We have an opportunity in front of us and the more opportunity we have, we can create that through work. Work that we do together."
 
The ceremony was kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer led by the chaplain of the Dalton Police Department John "J.D." Hebert. 
 
Herbert and the community prayed to express gratitude for the service of Tobin and the "stand as the guardians" to the community.
 
Herbert sought intercession from the patron saint and guardian angel of firefighters, St. Florian, to watch over them and "be their guiding light in moments of darkness and fortify their spirits with courage and resilience." 
 
He asked that Tobin lead by example and inspire members of the department "to embody the virtues of duty, honor, and selflessness."
 
The Fire District Treasurer and Clerk Melanie Roucoulet administered the oath to office and Tobin's father, former Pittsfield Fire Chief James Tobin, pinned the badge to his son. 
 
The former chief said it was exciting to be able to place the badge on his son because he had worked with many people within the firefighting community in the Berkshires. Tobin had served in the Pittsfield department for 25 years, the last four as chief until taking a position in the state of Florida in 1996. 
 
During the celebration, Christian Tobin thanked everyone for allowing him the opportunity to return home and join the Dalton community. Tobin grew up in Pittsfield and watched his father serve and lead the Pittsfield department. 
 
When he looked around, he saw a wealth of knowledge from his father and other former fire chiefs, but this wealth only works when it is shared, Tobin said. 
 
"It doesn't matter what department you're in, what branch of government, when we all work together, we become, what we call when I was in the Marine Corps, a force multiplier — the ability to do much more, [and] to fight much higher above our weight," Tobin said.  
 
"And by utilizing that opportunity, and working together, will create a premier fire/police emergency management system beyond any of our expectations."
 
It doesn't matter what color helmet you are wearing or your role within the Fire Department, no one has all the answers, said Tobin, "But we all do better when we share our ideas."
 
He said he can be sarcastic and believes that sometimes the best ways to learn is through mistakes and being able to laugh about them later, but he takes professionalism, character, and integrity seriously. 
 
"We got a duty and obligation," he said.
 
While in the Marines, a general handed out a wallet-size card that said "do the right things, in the right way, for the right reasons." It was the best thing you could get as young Marines, he said. 
 
"If we come to work every day and we try to practice those three things we're going to be on the right ground," Tobin said. "It's not whether or not we make mistakes, it's whether or not we correct them ...
 
"Leading people is not about getting your way, it's about finding the way."
 
Tobin hopes to learn from his team and the community. He wants to learn about the town, the history, and "the fundamental principles that make Dalton a great place to live, grow up, and work. All that goes into really the fabric of what you'd call Dalton."
 
Firefighters seemed optimistic about the department's new leadership. 
 
"I'm excited. I think he has a lot of different experiences that will be beneficial to us. Obviously, coming from his experience in Florida where he's had the whole command structure," said Tyler Colby, a firefighter and emergency medical technician.
 
"I think it'll be beneficial in giving us that command structure that we're kind of lacking right now. Really just excited to see the changes that he can make to benefit us."
 
Leading the Fire Department for the last seven months has been great, interim Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said, adding it is exciting that the department has gotten some permanency and can continue to move forward and upwards. 
 
"I hope everybody will give Chief Tobin the same respect, kindness, [and] kind word that everybody's passed on to me," the retired Pittsfield chief said. 
 
"It's been a great ride," he said, adding he will continue to stay in contact and work with the department for as long as they need him.

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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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